As a medical device supplier, you’re likely impacted by patient delays or negligence in returning equipment. While there are a number of reasons why a patient may not return a device, timely (and finalized) returns are critical to properly manage your device inventory and expenses. Device returns can often be simplified by following a few recommendations. We’ve compiled some easy-to-implement tips to increasing your recovery rate.
Understand the potential causes for late or missed returns
There are a number of reasons why a patient may be late with or entirely miss a device return. By understanding these causes, you’ll be able to better implement procedures to minimize potential occurrence or impact. A list of several potential causes include:
- Patient declared bankruptcy
- Patient became ill or deceased
- Instructions did not clearly specify date or process of return
- Patient did not receive communication from device supplier
- Device supplier did not contact or follow up with patient
- Patient lost device
- Device was lost in return shipment
- Patient broke device
Many of these scenarios can be resolved with better communication between patient and device supplier. Others - such as patient bankruptcy or death - should be handled by a professional recovery or collections agency.
Review and revise your patient communication procedures
As demonstrated in the potential causes for a missed or delayed return, communication between patient and device supplier can be critical to a success recovery. One of the first steps to improve recovery rates is to review your existing communication procedures. Make sure you have answers to the following questions.
Has the patient been clearly notified as to when the device should be returned?
When provided to the patient, the patient should be clearly notified when the device should be returned.
Do you follow up with the patient at determined times prior to device return?
Consider following up with patients at designated intervals prior to device return. For instance, mail out a return reminder a month before return or call the patient a week prior. The more you communicate with the patient, the more likely your device will be returned on-time.
How quickly do you notify patients after a missed return?
You answer should be immediately. Have a procedure in place to contact a patient the day after a missed returned.
Have you provided instructions in the case a device is lost or broken?
By providing clear instructions to contact your company in the case an item is broken or misplaced, you’ll be aware of a potential issue before it occurs.
Does the patient receive notification from a professional recovery or collections agency?
If a patient is not responding to your communication notices, are you utilizing a professional recovery or collections agency to contact the patient on your behalf? Many patients will return a device when the risk of a negative credit impact is made more clear.
Be aware of your device pipeline
Your own awareness of where your devices are located and where they exist in the return cycle will greatly assist your recovery process. Any improvements to communication are tied to how accurately you can track your devices. You need to be aware of upcoming returns and missed returns, and what potential impact a missed return has on your own inventory or finances.
When it comes to medical device recovery, communication and awareness can be game changers, but can also be time intensive. VARO offers a variety of patient contact, payment, and recovery services to improve your device recovery rate. And to make device recovery even easier, we’ve compiled "The Medical Device Recovery Checklist." You can request your free copy here.